Champagne, Cava, what’s the difference?
Prosecco, Champagne, Cava…who cares, it all amounts to the same thing, really, doesn’t it – glorious, bubbly fun? Well, yes, can’t argue with that… but, but, BUT, have you ever felt slightly in the dark when it comes to the ever-growing world of sparkling wines? Me too.
Since Dry January is officially no more, I thought now would be a good moment to pick some expert brains on the fizzy stuff. Step forward Ian Renwick, the man behind Ashburton and Chagford’s marvellous Jaded Palates stores. He’s come up trumps with some fizzy facts; and the good news? It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does help to know just a little if you want to find amazing bang for your buck. Over to you, oh Master of fizz.
What’s in a name?
Champagne is so-called because, like Parma Ham, it must come from Champagne. And then there’s all the prestige associated with it too. But did you know that Cava, most Crémants and English Sparkling are all made in exactly the same way as Champagne? Prosecco is the only exception to this, but if you prefer that fresher, tangier style that Champagne offers, without the premium price, try one of these alternatives, and you’ll probably wonder what took you so long in the first place.
Dry isn’t always dry
Annoyingly, when it says, “Extra Dry” on the label, that doesn’t necessarily mean what you think it does. It actually means it’s going to be slightly sweeter than your average “Brut” or “Extra Brut”. There’s a sliding scale, of course, right up to “Doux” or “sweet”, but just remember that Dry means a little Sweeter, and you’re ok. Confused..?! [at this stage, I suggest you just pour another glass and don’t sweat it]
Prosecco is good, but be careful
Yes, it’s a lovely, easy-drinking fizz. [It’s so popular that
I *cough*, we Brits consume over 1/3 of all the Prosecco made!] But on the flip side, demand is so high for it now that some producers are being less careful about where they are getting their grapes from. There is a reason there are so many controls over grape production – so it may mean you’re getting lesser quality for the same money you paid before. When a bargain price seems too good to be true, then maybe it is.
BUT, when you mix it up, Prosecco is perfect
With the possible glorious exception of a Kir Royale (Champagne with blackcurrant), there is very little point in using top quality bubbles if you want to add things to your glass, so plump for Prosecco. For a great twist, try an Amaretto Sour Prosecco – smooth, almondy Amaretto added to lemon, lime and sugar topped with some Prosecco. Divine. Or give The King’s Fizz a go – beautiful King’s Ginger adds spice, warmth and more than a little naughtiness to your everyday sparkles.
For some of the best, think local
You may have heard, but English Sparkling Wine is now being recognised as some of the best in the world. Winning all kinds of awards against the top Champagne houses, if you haven’t tried any yet, 2018 really should be the year you give it a go. Names to look out for include Cornwall’s Camel Valley, Nyetimber from West Sussex, Ridgeview from East Sussex and the immaculate Gusbourne from Kent.
In the mood to experiment this month? Jaded Palates stocks 16 different Sparkling Wines (sixteen!), including a brilliant Portuguese, some fab Cava and one of the easiest-drinking Champagnes you’ve ever tasted. Give Ian, Gill and co a shout at either store, and they’ll happily give you all the low-down on how to make the most out of your February Fizz.